New Year's Eve in Bologna

What To Do In and Around Bologna on New Year’s Eve (2019)

If you’re spending New Year’s Eve in Bologna or around Emilia-Romagna and you want to mingle with the locals, head to the piazzas. Pretty much every town in the region is hosting a New Year’s Eve bash (Capodanno in Italian) in their main squares, with music, live performances and fireworks displays going off at midnight.

Below is a selection of Capodanno events happening in and around Bologna.

Bologna – out with the old, in the new

The saying ‘out with the old, in the new’ couldn’t ring more true in Bologna where the arrival of the new year is celebrated with the traditional Rogo del Vecchione, literally the ‘Burning of the Old Man’: a giant puppet is burned at the stroke of midnight in Piazza Maggiore, representing the year that has just passed. This year, rather than commissioning a single artist to create the ‘vecchione’, the citizens of Bologna are invited to contribute, bringing old wooden objects they no longer wish to keep and written sentences with their intentions for the new year, to the workshop where a sort of collective Vecchione will be built.

New Year's Eve in Bologna
Bologna traditionally celebrates the arrival of the new year with the ‘Rogo del Vecchione’ in Piazza Maggiore (photo source Il Resto del Carlino).

In addition, this year the city’s tourism board has teamed up with the Cineteca di Bologna (one of the most important film libraries in Europe) for a videomapping event, which they called Lightin’Bo; every evening from 27th December to 1st January between 6 pm and 8 pm, five of Bologna’s historical buildings will display the most famous dance scenes in the history of 20th-century cinema on their facades. On December 31st, projections will be up until 1 am.

The locations and films are:

  • Chiesa di Santa Maria della Pioggia – Piazzetta della Pioggia – scenes from “Way Out West” (USA/1937) by James W. Horne;
  • Sant’Ignazio complex – Bologna Art Gallery – Piazza Vittorio Puntoni: “La Dolce Vita” (Italy- France/1960) by Federico Fellini;
  • Palazzo Isolani – Piazza Santo Stefano: “The Leopard” (Italy-France/1963) by Luchino Visconti;
  • Palazzo Malvezzi De’ Medici – Piazza Rossini: “Scandal in Sorrento” (Italy/1955) by Dino Risi;
  • Palazzo della Mercanzia – Piazza della Mercanzia: “Top Hat” (USA/1935) by Mark Sandrich and “Ginger and Fred” (Italy-France-Germany/1985) by Federico Fellini.

And if you’re in town from December 27 to January 5 and you see dancers in the streets, don’t be surprised, that’s part of the Dancin’Bo program, which will see 500 artists perform different styles of dance in 15 different places around Bologna.

Ferrara – at the Court of the Este

Approximately half an hour from Bologna is the Renaissance city of Ferrara. The 14th century Castello Estense, one of the city’s major attractions, hosts a spectacular fireworks display accompanied by music, lighting up the castle at midnight.

Before then, you can feast on the traditional ‘cenone’ (New Year’s Eve dinner) inside the castle (reservations required).

New Year's Eve in Ferrara
The fireworks display at Castello Estense in Ferrara is quite the show.

Ravenna, Parma, Modena  – all about music in the piazzas

In Ravenna, the city of mosaics, central Piazza del Popolo will host a soul and gospel concert starting at 11 pm.

3D videomapping installations will light up the Basilica of San Vitale, the MAR Museum and Piazzetta dell’Unità d’Italia with displays dedicated to the theme of travel. Many places around the city center will be open for aperitivo, dinner and dances.

Parma will host a traditional free concert in Piazza Garibaldi, starting at 10:30 pm. Capodanno in Modena will be celebrated on Piazza Roma, with the beautiful Ducal Palace in the background.

For a detailed list of Capodanno events in Emilia-Romagna, click here.

*Want to know more about Christmas time in Bologna? Read my dedicated posts.

Have fun, stay safe & Buon Anno!

4 thoughts on “What To Do In and Around Bologna on New Year’s Eve (2019)”

  1. Grande! I was in Bologna for NYEve 2015. Spent the evening with a group of friends eating a fabulous dinner of course. Might have to put the Ferrara experience on the bucket list. (I’ve been there for Buskers. Love that city). Buon Anno a te Silvia! Spero di trovarti qualche volta quando sto in Italia in 2017.

    1. I like Ferrara too! I often go there to see friends who live nearby. Buon anno to you and thank you for following my blog. I always enjoy to hear from readers. Let me know when you’re in Emilia-Romagna next!

  2. I spent Christmas and New Year’s in Bologna in 2001 and remember watching the fireworks from our rooftop. I’m going to be living there starting in January, so I’m happy to learn about the free admission to the museums on first Sundays!

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